The Chronicles Of Macintosh

The Lion, The Air, & The App Store

The Future Of The Mac & Computing

Image Copyright Apple Inc.

In October of last year Apple held their “Back To The Mac” event and made several announcements. Chief among them was a new MacBook Air, a preview of the next version of OS X, and a new App Store for the Mac. Though by the time you read this, the Verizon iPhone will have been announced and that will be the story on everyone’s lips, I got to wondering if we won’t look back at this October event and see it as far more pivotal than we first realized. [Read more…]

Thoughts on the Mac App Store

App Store iconMac OS X 10.6.6 and the brand new Mac App Store were released just days ago, as promised, even showing up a few hours before the official 9 AM PST start time. I found myself, like many other Mac fanatics, breaking open the virtual shrink-wrap on the new store and having a look around.

Making it Easy

The Mac App Store is likely to have its biggest impact on new and, dare I say less geeky, Mac users. A couple of weeks from now, when all the new Macs that people will buy are pre-loaded with 10.6.6, finding and purchasing third-party applications is going to be a lot easier. The very fact that the Mac App Store is so familiar — and installed right there on the Dock — means that many more people will be able to be connected with high-quality, very useful applications that they would never previously have known about.

While there are concerns of another ‘race to the bottom’ with regards to pricing, it seems more than credible that developers will also do very well out of the Mac App Store, just because they will be reaching more eyes than before and will shift more copies of their code.

So, it’s great for new Mac users, it’s great for developers. The App Store is a great success on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, but is it really the right fit for the Mac? [Read more…]

What’s Missing From iTV

Am I the only one who finds Apple’s upcoming “iTV” box a bit underwhelming?

I think it’s a great piece of technology for streaming content from your Mac or PC to your TV, but … that’s it then, isn’t it?

For $299, however, I have to ask: Where’s the recording capability? I want to time-shift the programming content I’m already paying for through my DirectTV subscription and, surprisingly, there are no inputs for pumping your satellite box into the “iTV.” So, though it’s tentatively called “iTV,” I see no evidence of there being any “TV” involved other than the TV content you purchase through the iTunes Store. It’s more of an AirPort Express for video.

Ideally, and perhaps this is the end goal we have not yet been made privy to, Apple would meld the “iTV” with a Mac mini and slam a tuner in as well, so that not only do we have the Mac with a big honkin’ hard drive recording shows for us (as scheduled by our iCal calendar) and automatically placing them into our iTunes library, but then we’d have the outputs to drive it to our television as well.

Yes, of course this can be done we third party solutions, but we shouldn’t have to do that, should we? Apple is known for elegant solutions, so why — when they are sooooo close — would Apple put on the brakes and stop short like that?

I guess this shows my age. I take issue with spending 99 cents per music track, $1.99 per episode of a TV show or even $9.99 for a movie when I can get that same content at higher quality, with more features, AND be able to rip that content to my computer or iPod if I so choose, getting the best of both worlds for the same or less money.

Well … that’s it then isn’t it? Nothing like spending $1.99 per show and then streaming it to your $299 “iTV” box.

After reading comments on various message boards about the “iTV,” I can see that it is a generational thing. People aged 28 – 30 and younger have no issues at all with downloadable content and don’t seem to realize what they’re giving up in exchange. Then again, I still note the lack of liner notes and extra album cover art that was lost in the transition from LP to CD.

Now … where did I put my “walker”…?

Republished from ESC!Webs Blogitorials, September 2006

Happy Birthday Apple!

Today, April 1st, marks Apple Computer‘s 30th birthday.

It seems strange, doesn’t it, to celebrate a computer manufacturer’s BIRTHDAY. Most, I expect, would note an anniversary of incorporation or some such dealy, but not with Apple. No, it’s a birthday.

I have to admit I’m not as big a zealot as many of Apple’s “enthusiasts,” but Apple has played quite a role in my love of computers and, ultimately, my career choices. Let me explain:

If you were to ask me outright, I’d say that I’m a “Sinclair” guy. The first personal computer I ever owned was a Sinclair ZX80 purchased from my friend Ray F. The transaction took place in the school cafeteria in high school. I believe I paid around $70 for it. Shortly after that, I moved to the American version of the Sinclair ZX81, the Timex/Sinclair 1000, which I purchased from Osco using money earned from bottle returns. It was a $100 computer and I think I earned 80 cents per 8 pack of bottles. In 1983, I moved to the TS 2068 color computer and finally to the Sinclair QL. Soon the “IBM PC” revolution took place and somewhere around the middle of college, with the slow demise of Sinclair, I finally switched to a PC. More in a moment.

In any event, long before the ZX80, my first personal computer experience came in 7th grade when a couple of brand spanking new (and extremely expensive) Apple II+ computers were installed in the “library.” I remember spending a lot of time playing “Lemonade Stand” as well as tinkering around with various graphical applications such as Logo. I would spend as much time on the computers as possible with my friend Scott R. and we’d even continue at his folks house where his Dad had an Apple II as well (being Principal had its perks I suppose).

In high school, I got my first real (paying) job. It was as a lab supervisor in the North building of my high school. Of course the lab was filled with Apple IIe computers and I spent a good part of my time working out Print Shop problems and printer issues. This also afforded me my first opportunity to pop open an Apple and get to the “guts” inside.

At the same time, the main library at the high school’s campus got in, not a Macintosh, but a Lisa. Wow! That was an awesome computer and I was lucky enough to get to play around with it for a few minutes, but I recall that it was “for the teachers” so I never really got to fully experience this precursor to the Mac as it was too expensive to let the kids use it.

In college, I brought my trusty T/S 2068 with me, but one of the reasons I had so much trouble with my accounting and calculus classes was because I spent so much time helping Tina M. with her “computer graphics” course. This involved not only work on her Apple IIgs, but the occasional trip to the computer lab to get some hands on work with an early Apple Macintosh (512? Plus? — I don’t remember.)

So, really, for the first 10+ years of my love affair with computers, I was a Sinclair and Apple guy! I guess I never really thought about how much of a role Apple played in those years until I sat down to type this entry. Unfortunately, the Mac (and IIe) was always too expensive for me to own, so I traveled the route of DOS / GEM / Windows which allowed me to build my own computers and thereby save a bunch of money for things like … food. And shelter.

I always thought Windows was somewhat of a pain in the ass, but in August of 95 when Windows 95 hit the streets, I became more of a proponent of Microsoft products for the home. Mostly, I think, because they were “more affordable.” Windows 98 was the best OS Microsoft made for home users and soon we all looked forward to Windows 2000 after the much more difficult to use but more powerful, Windows NT (Microsoft’s fork of OS/2) attempted to make inroads in our homes and businesses.

Over in the Mac camp, however, OS 8 and OS 9 were pretty stuck in the 80’s/early 90’s where I last used them. There was little support for running multiple applications at the same time and the interface was suffering from age.

Soon “we” all moved on to Windows XP, but it turns out Apple had a few aces up its sleeve as well. And their trump card was OS X. A ‘written from the ground up’ replacement for the beleaguered OS 9.

When both Windows XP and OS X came out in 2001, we IT guys tried to show that XP was superior to Apple’s product, but over the years, as Microsoft kept sticking its foot up its own ass over and over and over again while Apple managed to release multiple revisions of its OS with greater improvements in usability and security, I quickly realized that I would soon need to switch back to my original path and abandon my foolish trip down the “shortcut” path that was Windows.

So here I am, on Apple’s 30th anniversary, waiting for a 17″ MacBook Pro to be released so I can replace this Windows laptop I’ve been using the last few years with something much more stable, secure and fun to use than anything Microsoft could dish up. After 11 years of Windows 9X and NT/XP, I’m tired of dealing with the constant security problems and I honestly don’t think “Vista” is going to be any better.

So here’s to you Apple on your 30th birthday! Thanks for the memories past … and memories yet to come.

(Republished from ESC!Webs Blogitorials, April 2006)


So after harping on some of the problems I’m having integrating a couple of new PowerMacs into our business environment (here and here), I thought I’d take a second to mention something that Apple does better than any other computer manufacturer out there.

In truth, I hesitate to mention this at all because I don’t want them to sell out too quickly, but Apple’s little secret in the Apple Store Online is the Apple Certified Refurbished products link.

I’ve been using this quite a lot and I am very impressed with the quality of the packaged product and Apple’s attention to detail when boxing up the computers.

Some of the things I’ve noticed when buying a refurbished Mac:

1) If Apple’s standard equipment or software packages change, you’ll often get a machine that meets the new spec even if it says otherwise on their site. Of course this means you may very well NOT get the new spec, but a couple examples of where this worked in my favor include: the purchase of an iMac G5 that was supposed to come with 256MB of RAM but came with 512MB instead — the new Apple standard; a PowerMac that was supposed to ship with iLife ’05 came with iLife ’06; and another Mac that was supposed to ship with OS X Panther came with OS X Tiger in the box. Thanks Apple!

2) Despite warnings the refurbished Mac may arrive with scratches or other blemishes (they ARE returned/used after all), I have yet to see one come that way. The iMac, PowerMac and a monitor I ordered all arrived in perfect condition. In fact, the PowerMac arrived wrapped up much nicer than the “new” one I purchased. Go figure.

3) By purchasing a refurbished Mac, you know that someone has had their “hands on it” making sure it’s up to spec before boxing it back up to be sold. It’s not like Best Buy where they slap an “Open Box” sticker on a box that is, in many cases, still open. No, these are fully checked out, certified and then put up for sale.

4) Unlike other manufacturers who sell refurb but offer virtually no warranty, Apple offers their full standard warranty on each machine they sell. That in itself makes it a no brainer in my book.

5) The discounts are substantial! They don’t want this stuff sitting around too long, so to move these products out the door, you’ll see some deep cuts off the sticker price. As a great example, as I write this there is a 15″ MacBook Pro listed on the site for $300 off list … plus free shipping! Sweet.

So what’s the catch?

There are a couple of “gotchas” to be on the look out for:

1) The machine may not be free of surface defects. If that matters at all to you, then don’t take a chance.

2) The quantities are very limited. If you really are in the market for a new computer and you see something you like on their sale page, you better not drag your heels for too long.

3) The savings come off the original list price of the computer in question. In other words, if Apple releases a new model with a lower price, the refurb model with the old feature set and higher price might not be all that great a deal in comparison. I’ve noticed that primarily with the iPod line.

(Republished from ESC!Webs Blogitorials, March 2006)

Power Mac Woes, part II

If you’ll recall my last post, we’re experiencing some issues when trying to replace Windows XP computers with Apple Power Mac G5 computers in our Creative Services department here at work.

So far I’ve related the issues of:

  • Slow access to network file folders containing thousands of files.
  • InDesign’s import filter problems
  • Poor font management
  • Font tearing in the Mozilla products

Each of those is high on my list of “Stoppers”. That is, problems which would prevent the roll out of these very expensive machines.

Before I move on to the other, lesser, problems encountered, let me point out that I understand many of these issues I have related or will relate are not Apple’s problem. Many of these are with 3rd party software running on the Mac. However, these same programs are available on BOTH the Windows and Mac platforms and I have not had these same bugs creep up on Windows computers within these programs.

Also, I’d like to point out that I’m a huge fan of the Apple platform and I would recommend one of their Macintosh computers to anyone looking for an easy to use and safe platform for their home or office. Ultimately, I decided to blog about this not to bitch about Apple, but rather because I’m hoping someone out there will have answers to these questions … Especially the slow network browsing issue which really is holding everything up.

So with that all said, let’s continue shall we?

5) When using Terminal Services utilizing Microsoft’s client, the number pad on the Mac’s keyboard does not work. I’ve found no workaround for this.

6) Adobe’s Acrobat 7 Professional refuses to acknowledge that Mozilla Thunderbird is the default mail client. Or, rather, it acknowledges Thunderbird, it just doesn’t want to play nice with it. If I try to send (e-mail) a PDF file from within Acrobat Professional, I get the following error message: “The SendMail doesn’t know how to talk to your preferred mail client. Please select a different mail application to use.”

Okay, Sendmail is a mail transfer agent in the UNIX/Linux world. The Mac is using BSD Unix as its base. Is this the same “Sendmail” being referenced in Adobe’s grammatically suspect error message? If so, is this problem with OS X? Or perhaps Adobe Acrobat calling its own implementation? Or is it the fault of Mozilla Thunderbird?

To my knowledge, Thunderbird is recognized as the default mail client by all other apps, so the finger seems to point to Acrobat or Thunderbird. I’ve read somewhere online that the issue is that Thunderbird is not “Apple Scriptable.” However, Acrobat gives you no way to choose a default client if you wanted to so… any thoughts?

7) Mozilla Thunderbird on the Mac doesn’t recognize e-mail templates properly … or something. When everyone was using Windows, we could pass e-mail templates around the office like candy and they would work fine at each workstation. Now on the Mac, I can load the templates into the user’s “Templates” folder and we can preview it in the handy-dandy Preview Window, but if we open the template to create a new e-mail, all of the images are blank. The only workaround we found is to select “Display Attachments Inline”, but this is kind of a pain because then ALL attachments in ALL messages are displayed inline.

This setting is not needed when using Thunderbird on Windows.

8) “Phantom” folders in Thunderbird at the account rep’s station. I believe this has something to do with my bringing her Thunderbird Local Mail from a Windows computer to her iMac. However, mail files are just text and, from what I can tell, there’s no issue with what we brought over.

For some reason her Thunderbird likes to take one of her existing folders — usually the inbox, duplicate it and move that duplicate elsewhere within her local folders.

Strange huh? And since it’s a duplicate of her original folder, she can remove it with no consequence.

I keep hoping with each release of Thunderbird that the problem will be fixed, but so far, no dice.

Update 04.04.06: When the latest and greatest pre-release build of Thunderbird came out on April 2nd, we loaded that up at her workstation to see if the problem got any better. No dice. *ACK! Thbbbt!*

So there ya have it! My top 8 woes encountered when upgrading our creative department from Windows XP computers to Apple Macs.

Some will no doubt point out that by not utilizing the software bundled with the Mac — that is, Apple’s Mail client and the Safari browser as well as its built in PDF creator and Preview — I’m asking for it. That I’m inviting these problems into my workplace and I’ve no business complaining about it.

To that I simply say, the Mac is a superior operating platform to Windows, but their bundled applications, while great for a home user, don’t have the power and flexibility that other programs have. Yes, I’ve evaluated Apple’s Mail client and I’ve deemed it inferior to Thunderbird for our purposes.

In addition, by using different applications on OS X and Windows I make my job that much harder because now I’m supporting not only two platforms, but two mail clients, browsers, PDF creators … whatever.

But that’s what makes the Mac such a great platform … right? That I can choose to use OS X over Windows and, in doing so, give my organization better flexibility and security while still using the programs that I want to use. If I’m going to be locked in to a platform and its applications, then I might as well sigh, throw up my hands and use Windows … just like everyone else.

(Republished from ESC!Webs Blogitorials, March 2006. Some external links have been updated.)

Power Mac Woes, part I

Working for a creative advertising agency, I felt the time was ripe to finally move the creative department into the 21st Century and upgrade everyone from crappy Windows technology to the much more modern and secure Apple OS X.

We already use Adobe’s Creative Suite and Macromedia’s (nee Adobe’s) Studio 8, so software was not an issue. Surprisingly, what became issues were — as is typical in the computer world — completely unexpected! Read on….

To prepare for any surprises, I decided to upgrade a willing and able account representative to an iMac first. She is always ready to jump on the latest thing and understands that there may be bugs or compatibility issues which may make her day-to-day work more difficult.

As a corporation, we standardize on Mozilla Firefox for the browser and Mozilla Thunderbird for the e-mail client. Additionally we use Microsoft Office 97 on the PC side and run a proprietary application built on an Access engine which connects to a Microsoft SQL Server.

Office was easy. I simply purchased Microsoft Office 2004 for the Mac. Likewise, there is a version of Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird for the Mac. The only other issue then was this proprietary Windows application, and I worked around that by setting up the account rep to use a Terminal Services client with a connection to our Terminal Server — a method our remote offices use.

To my great pleasure, there were no major “stoppers” in this trial run that would make me feel as if I couldn’t move forward in procuring Power Mac G5s for the Creative Dept. In all of our testing, the only issue that consistently came up is the appearance of “mystery” folders in her Thunderbird client. That is, phantom duplicate folders of mail folders she already had. Deleting these folders had no affect on the originals, nor did they appear to actually take up room in her profile. They just … appear. And sporadically at that. More later.

So with the company credit card in hand, I ordered up the first of what would eventually be four new Power Macs.

Once it arrived, I took more than ample time to load and test the system before rolling it out. Once deployed, however, the problems began. Here is a quick run down of issues encountered so far:

1) The most critical issue I’ve encountered is one that almost scuttled the entire project. Apparently the Mac chokes on network directories that have lots of files in them. And by lots I mean in the range of 9,000 – 25,000 files.

It can take up to a minute for the file listing to begin to appear and then another 2 – 3 minutes until it’s “browsable.” On the surface, that may not seem bad, but when you multiply the number of times an employee has to access those folders and files per day by 2 – 3 minutes, that time really adds up.

I finally broke down and phoned Apple on the issue and was even bumped up to a second tier tech support rep, but after a week or two of back and forth trading of information, Apple dropped the issue and stopped contacting me. I’m sure they’re hoping I’ll forget about it or something. Instead I decided to blog about it.

Here’s what I do know about the issue, however:

  • If I drag that network folder to the desktop, I don’t have the slow down problem when accessing the desktop folder.
  • Changing the way I view files — list, icon, column — doesn’t affect performance noticeably.
  • It doesn’t matter if I access a file share on a Windows server or a Linux server running Samba.
  • Accessing the folder from a Windows computer pulls up the list of files in 2 – 3 seconds.
  • Accessing the folder from a Linux computer running Fedora Core 5 takes just as long as from the Mac.

Aha! Both the Mac and Linux use Samba for browsing Windows file servers. Though I did relate this information to Apple, they seemed to shrug it off. Probably because the guys I spoke to didn’t know what Samba was even though it’s the underpinnings of the Mac’s ability to integrate with Windows. If they did know what it was, their silence at the word “Samba” sure didn’t lend any confidence to that fact.

So I’m left believing the issue is with Samba and I just don’t know what settings in smb.conf might take care of it — if any. If you have any clues, please let me know.

UPDATE 03.15.06: The only workaround to this issue I’ve found is to physically reduce the number of files in the folders. This seems silly considering Windows and it’s 10+ year old technology can run circles around the (in general) more modern and UNIX based OS X. But that’s what we’re doing. Again, if you have any thoughts please share them in the comments….

2) Adobe InDesign CS2’s import filter is messed up on the Mac version. A few years back, the “creatives” here took it upon themselves to start adding a # in front of their design numbers in the file names. So instead of an image named “123456-bwdog.tif” it might be named “#123456-bwdog.tif.”

On the whole, this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you try to place that file from the network into InDesign CS2 on the Mac you get the error message “Cannot place this file. No filter found for requested operation.”

The strange thing is that if you copy this file to your Mac desktop and try to place it, it works fine. Additionally, the error doesn’t always happen — just most of the time — even when placing other network files.

WORKAROUND / FIX: Early on we found that simply renaming the file to remove the # while in the “Place” dialog box will eliminate the problem. This is stupid though. Why should it work from the desktop but not the network? Adobe?

3) Font management on the Mac stinks. Not really an issue when working in the account services department, but it sure became one in creative.

What bonehead decided that there should be “computer” fonts and “user” fonts and … oh yeah, “system” fonts as well? Turns out a single font could be installed in one or all of those locations and that can cause some major problems. In Windows, there’s just the Fonts folder. That’s it. One place to install them. On the Mac, even if I go in to the Font Book and set it to only install fonts to the “computer” so that all users can utilize them, some programs, like Microsoft Office override this and install in the “user” area anyway! If the user area is turned off, then it should be off.

4) And on that note, we have an awful time with font “tearing” in Mozilla Thunderbird and Mozilla Firefox. In other words, when the Power Mac user types something in Thunderbird and then tries to backspace over what they typed to make a correction, for example, the old letters typed on screen “tear” and leave remnants of themselves behind making it nearly impossible to type something new. This same thing happens in Firefox when using webmail.

This problem does not appear on the account services iMac.

UPDATE / FIX 04.06.06: This is fixed! Turns out to be related to #3 above. There were duplicates of important OS X fonts in both the “System” and “Computer” file areas. Once those were eliminated the problem went away.

Okay, that’s enough for today. I’ll continue this next time….

(Republished from ESC!Webs Blogitorials, March 2006. Some external links have been updated.)

Augh! Fingerprints!

So the rumor mill this past week has been flooded with conjecture about the next video iPod. Sporting a touch sensitive 3 1/2″ screen, the speculation is the next iPod will have a “virtual” click-wheel that appears when you touch the screen and disappears when no longer needed.

That’s very cool technology … But I hope the rumors are false.

Wha … Why?

One word: Fingerprints.

You think iPod owners are going crazy now constantly wiping fingerprints off their glossy white portable jukeboxes? Just wait until they have to deal with a greasy circular smudge on their video iPod’s screen – right in the middle of Mr. Incredible’s face.

It will be a constant battle for picture clarity as they use the click wheel, wipe the fingerprints off so they can watch their video, use the click wheel again, wipe the fingerprints off again… Well, you get the idea.

My guess is that IF this rumor is true and the next video iPod does indeed sport this virtual click wheel interface, it will only be in cahoots with the 3rd Party iPod Accessories industry that Apple releases this device.

Imagine the possibilities: silicone finger tip covers and multi-colored “socks” for your fingers await!

(Republished from ESC!Webs Blogitorials, February 2006)

Bruised Apple?

So the big news today is that Apple is going to move from using PowerPC processors to Intel processors – the processors used by every Windows PC out there. And since everyone has been weighing in on this topic over the rumor-filled weekend, I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring as well.

On the whole, I’m not so sure this move is the best Apple could be making at the moment. With the recent push to get more switchers, it seems telling all those folks the new Mac mini or iMac they just bought is not the future of the company is a bad move.

It’s true new Apples will not be sold running Windows. They’ll be running OSX. The same operating system the Apples run now. The general buying public, however, does not understand the differences between processors or even operating systems, so Apple will have an even tougher row to hoe convincing buyers that the Apple computer running an Intel processor is different than the Dell computer running an Intel processor. On the other hand, the whole GHz to GHz comparison will now be a moot point. You’ll literally be able to compare Apples to … hmmm … let’s go with lemons.

You see, it’s not the processor that makes the computer useful, friendly, safe and secure. It’s the operating system. And, whether OS X is running on an Intel or a PowerPC, it will still be infinitely more powerful and secure than anything running Windows.

And that’s what is really bothering me.

Should Apple decide to make their computers capable of running Windows as well as OS X, we’ll have a whole lot of people who slap Windows on it just so that it’s “more familiar” rather than run the much better OS X. And then, my friends, the same issues plaguing commodity PC users running Windows today will plague Apple computer users running Windows tomorrow.

Even if Apple says “No way” to running Windows on their hardware – which is unlikely – there will still be some enterprising hacker who gets Windows to run on it anyway.

What should Apple do?

Apple already invests heavily in the open source community. I’d like to see Apple really dump a ton of cash and development time on the WINE project. Wine is an environment for Linux desktop computers that allows them to run Windows applications without running Windows. Cool huh? You bet!

If Apple were to put its development muscle behind the project, they might be able to create a nice, Windows compatibility layer for OS X Leopard on Intel (a la Classic mode in OS X) that would allow folks to go ahead an install most of their Windows applications without needing Windows itself. And then, with that capability, if they further “sandboxed” those apps to keep them from interfering with the core OS, they would have a KILLER combination on their hands!

In the mean time, we have to wait until 2006 to see a bigger glimpse of what Apple has up their sleeve.

*ASIDE: Undoubtedly there are a couple big motivations for Apple to move from the PowerPC platform. One is cost. Intel chips, by the nature of their production volume, are much cheaper to procure than PowerPC chips.

The other is technology. Currently Apple is having trouble bringing their notebook line to the G5 processor and their desktop line to the 3 GHz mark. By moving to Intel, they could achieve this goal right now.

But what does that do to their arguments that the PowerPC processors are superior to the Intel processors? Have they been lying to us this whole time? Definitely not. The PowerPC processor IS better … for now. But Apple’s question to IBM is, where will the PowerPC be in two years? If there is an answer, it’s surely one Steve Jobs didn’t like.

With all the pros and cons of moving to Intel aside, my question to Apple is, “Who’s going to buy a PowerPC Mac in the next 12 months knowing that the Intel Macs are coming out so soon?”

(Republished from ESC!Webs Blogitorials, June 2005)

Through the Desktop-glass

I first caught a glimpse of a new fad for folks-who-have-too-much-time-on-their-hands called “transparent desktops” the other week and thought it was pretty cool.

Check this out:

No, that’s not a hole in the screen. This person took a digital picture of their workspace, set it as their desktop wallpaper on their computer and lined everything up just right so it would appear to be a “transparent” computer screen.

How cool is that? Now, if you want to see some real clever applications of this technique, bop on over to this site and check out some of the more extreme “transparent desktops.”

Then, if you’re like me, you’ll be itching to give it a try yourself!

NOTE: Updated April 7th to point to a different photo site. The original site referenced ( now seems to be down.

(Republished from ESC!Webs Blogitorials, March 2005)